Despite the inadequacies of data available for Ihe study of New Zealand electoral behaviour, evidence from a number of small-scale projects has given rise to a conventional wisdom which suggests that, at least in the 1960s, the association between class and party was strong in New Zealand – similar to the level in Britain. New evidence suggests that past estimates of class voting exaggerated the size of the link. Furthermore since the 1960s the level of class voting has declined considerably, as it has in many other countries. In New Zealand this decline appears to have been brought about by new age cohorts with weaker class-party alignments replacing older cohorts with stronger class-party links. Multivariate analysis supports the initial findings while at the same time showing that occupation remains the central social structural determinant of the vote in New Zealand.
* Department of Sociology, Australian National University, Canberra.